At our house, Autism Acceptance begins with accepting your own awesomeness

Last night, I had The Talk with my son. He had had a rough day, and just before bed I asked him if he was ready to talk about his day. He told me he didn’t really remember what he was thinking–or even if he WAS thinking–when he was disruptive in class. He said “sometimes my ADHD, and something else, makes it difficult for me to control myself.”

“I understand,” I replied,” but what do you mean by something else?”

“Well,” he said, “I don’t think it’s just ADHD. I feel like there’s something else going on and we don’t know what it is.”

(Here’s the part where I reveal that I’m pretty sure my son is psychic. He always know when I’m holding out on him. ALWAYS. The flip side of this is that he’s also a very honest kid. Maybe he’s sure that people know when he’s holding out, too.)

“Ok,” I replied, “what do you think that something else is?”

“I don’t know. But maybe it’s something nobody can describe.” And now he was clearly worried.

So I told him that we actually know what else is going on with him. I told him he is autistic, that we’ve known for some time but wanted to wait to discuss it with him until he was ready, until he could see this as a strength, not an excuse for rough days. And I told him we also waited to tell him because for us it’s not a big deal, that “autism” just describes one facet of how his brain works.

“That’s all!?” And relief washed over his face. “That just means I’m different, and who wants to be normal, anyway?” And then he curled up with his stuffed animals and went to bed.

My kid steals all my best lines.



2 thoughts on “At our house, Autism Acceptance begins with accepting your own awesomeness

  1. Oh, man, caught! (Extensive anecdotal trends in the autistic community suggest that kids do tend to realize far before parents suspect they do. Often as young as age 3.)

    I feel for your son. I was identified as gifted in grade school, and we learned about how gifted kids can have a hard time in ways other kids don’t seem to, but that didn’t seem to explain everything.

    In college I realized I was queer, and that explained some more things, but still not even close to everything.

    The summer I graduated from college I realized I was probably autistic. That explained everything.

    The thing is, though, that while it IS a strength, sometimes, it is also a disability. I do wish I’d known sooner, but it wouldn’t have been fair for someone to tell me only that it was a strength, and not also that it was why things were so hard sometimes.

    It’s not an “excuse” for hard days, but there WILL be other hard days, because we live in a world so drastically not understanding of people like us, and that’s not his fault. Knowing the ways that autism is also a disability (for most of us, most of the time) will let him figure out how to accommodate his needs and take responsibility for himself.

    *Not* having any way to explain why things were so hard is what led me to making excuses, because there was no way to get anyone to believe the truth.

  2. I grew up constantly being tested by professionals and no one having any answers. I always thought whatever was wrong with me was so rare that it didn’t have a name yet.

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